My favourite parking spaces are occupied, so I drop the boys off and start round two of the hunt. All the usual spots are inexplicably taken. It’s snowing a little, but the temperature hovers obstinately above freezing and the streets are deep in slushy puddles. The going is tough. The city is behind on snow removal, parking spots are scarce, and plenty of cars are taking up an awful lot of the pavement. My mirror nearly touches theirs as I slowly slide my car down the streets.
I sigh and turn down another side street. Grr! The red and white no parking signs that indicate snow removal is imminent taunt me from atop the snow banks. No wonder I can’t find a space. I do a quick check of my rear view mirror, touch my brakes and pause. Deep breath. Snow removal is good, I remind myself. Yes, I will likely spend a lot of time trying to find parking tonight, but tomorrow and the days that follow will be much easier.
10 long minutes later, I find a spot. It’s not ideal, but it’s good enough for tonight.
I’m reading Gregor the Overlander out loud while my older son draws. He’s sketching another manga character, and he’s not happy with the result. As I turn a page he snarls, “I hate this! It’s terrible!” He’s about to crumple the drawing, but my hand catches his before his fingers close around the paper.
“Hey,” I say quietly, “give it a second. What’s wrong with your picture?”
“It looks awful.” He’s looking away from his picture, not at it.
“Mmm. Can you tell me about it?”
He hates it all. I suggest if it’s that bad then it would make a really great place to experiment – just try a few new things. On second thought, he hates a few particular parts. Then he just really hates… wait, maybe he could…
He goes back to drawing; I continue to read.
The first week back to school after the winter break, I couldn’t bring myself to publish a blog post; I couldn’t find anything that rang true. Every word I wrote seemed to leave out another. I didn’t think it was awful, exactly, but I couldn’t find Hemingway’s one true sentence (even though, I’m just putting this out there, I really don’t like Hemingway). I wrote and deleted, wrote and threw away. I struggled, then I gave up in a huff.
The next week I paid attention and by Monday I had plenty of observations to choose from. To avoid writer’s block, I decided to write by hand first. I got as far as the date.
I had to pause. I didn’t have much choice: I clearly wasn’t going to write a slice of life by beating myself up.
Tonight, no parking spot magically appeared; my son’s drawing didn’t suddenly become excellent. Pausing didn’t solve things, but neither did it mean giving up.
So here I am, writing, pausing, and writing again.